Schenectady County

Schenectady elementary school students battle to become top speller

Eleven-year-old Gemyra Greggs remembered that the double “l’s” come first in the word “parallel” to
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Eleven-year-old Gemyra Greggs remembered that the double “l’s” come first in the word “parallel” to capture the Schenectady School District Elementary School Spelling Bee title on Thursday.

“I got confused a little bit between the double ‘l’ and the single,” said Gemyra, a sixth-grader at Howe International Magnet School.

Gemyra, who also goes by “G.G.,” calmly spelled it correctly to place first among 33 students in grades four through six in the districtwide competition, affiliated with the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Other competitors were felled by “influenza” or vanquished by “armada” in the rounds of the hourlong contest.

“Between round two and three, people started getting harder words. Round one was pretty easy,” Gemyra said.

Gemyra had fun. She did not practice that much for the competition, which she has been in twice before. The first time she placed 14th out 30 and she did not remember how she did the second time. Now, she moves on to the regional competition March 10 at 5 p.m. at Proctors.

She said she is “kinda nervous” about going up against other children, who probably have more experience with words.

“I’m going to practice more — probably go over the book I was given and practice with some different people,” she said.

When she is not practicing her spelling, she likes to roller-skate at Rollarama.

“It’s fun to see everybody else and the songs you can dance to,” she said.

She likes math. She is considering being a teacher or a famous singer/dancer when she gets older.

Her principal, Barbara Coffey, praised Gemyra’s performance.

“She’s always got a positive outlook. She’s just one of the greatest kids you could ever meet,” she said.

Monica Luciani, a sixth-grader at Van Corlaer Elementary School, placed second and Rayman Alli, a fourth-grader at Yates Arts in Education Magnet School, placed third.

Valarie Scott, principal of Yates Arts in Education Elementary School and district spelling bee coordinator, said the top three children for each of the elementary schools competed in Thursday’s competition.

Scott said the spelling bee is intense. While during the schoolwide spelling bees pupils are competing against their classmates, here they are competing against strangers in front of a crowd of about 50 parents and school administrators.

“Some of the kids are very confident. Their voices are very strong,” Scott said.

Others are more nervous. “You don’t want to be one of the first ones [eliminated],” Scott said. “There’s a little bit of pressure.”

Still, Scott said, students seem to enjoy the competition.

“It’s kind of your moment to be a star. It’s your 15 minutes of fame,” she said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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